Most people treat sleep as either a priority or a necessary evil. However, there is no arguing that waking up after a good night’s sleep can help elevate mood and make the upcoming day feel all the better.
There are many people who are plagued by sleep disturbances that prevent them from getting quality shut-eye. These disturbances include sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
A new study on older adults from Northwestern Medicine and Rush University Medical Center has found that having a good reason to get up in the morning translates to a higher chance of getting better sleep.
“Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia. Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies,” said senior author Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The pursuit of better sleep
As we get older, we tend to suffer from more frequent disturbances to our health and well-being that may affect our ability to fall asleep. Many health professionals prefer not to prescribe powerful sleep aids as they may cause more problems than they help solve.
Non-drug interventions such as mindfulness-based therapies are now recommended as first-line treatments for insomnia.
Over 800 participants were chosen to participate in the study. The average age of the participants was 79, with more than half being African-American and 77 percent being women.
Each participant filled out questionnaire surveys on the purpose of life and on sleep.
Having purpose is linked to better sleep quality
Of all the participants, those who felt their lives had meaning were 63 percent less likely to have sleep apnea and 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome. Their sleep quality was seen to be moderately better overall.
This correlation speaks volumes to how our thinking can influence important aspects of our lives, such as sleep. Furthur studies are set to be carried out to better understand how mindfulness techniques result in better sleep quality.
Related: 10 tricks to improve your sleep